How to Really Fix an Achy Shoulder


Massage is great, it really helps, there’s no doubt about it! There’s no greater pleasure than a trained massage therapist relieving a tight and wound up knot in the shoulders. It can be a kind of pleasure-pain ecstasy.
excel physiotherapy and wellness; excel physio; massage therapy

Physiotherapy might not deliver that same ecstasy, but your Physiotherapist will get to the heart of the matter: identifying the exact source of pain and managing appropriately. A Physio wouldn’t do the same treatment if woke up one morning with ‘a crick in your neck’ as they would if you had just been catapulted off your bike on your way to work, and you had a history of rheumatoid arthritis, for example.

But what about the sixty per cent of office workers who suffer from neck pain every year, who have never even had an injury? Okay, the sore muscles always feel better with a massage, and a fancy ergonomic chair (at $1k+) or a sit stand desk sounds like it will do the trick. It is often just assumed that regular stretches and sitting up straight will fix it, right? Wrong. In work-related office strains of the neck and shoulder, none of these sensible approaches actually fixes it.

Tim Ellis Physiotherapist; physiotherapy; excel physiotherapy and wellness, achy neck and shoulder

excel physiotherapy and wellness; excel physio; tim ellis

That’s why I love being a Physio. We look at the evidence from the inside out and we’re not frightened to challenge time honoured ideas. At Excel Physio, our mission is to Operate with Integrity, To Be the Best We Can Be, and then To Empower You! We aim to be the premiere treatment centre in south east Sydney. And that’s why we keep up with the latest research, and re-adjust our approach.

Recently, the University of Queensland analysed the evidence from 27 randomised controlled trials and found that the only intervention supported by evidence was targeted neck strengthening exercises. Even simple ergonomic tricks like adjusting the keyboard, monitor, and mouse didn’t really help.

There are four strengthening exercises that really stand up, all of the four involve free weights. These should be done three times per week, for a twenty-minute session over a ten-week period, at least, if not for life, because as former US President Calvin Coolidge once said:

“nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”

And he was right. That’s because gravity is a persistent. As is the modern workplace, and the sedentary life that many of us don’t even realise we’re living.

My first degree was in Archaeology and I was a professional Archaeologist for six years before making the break into Physio. So I can tell you that the human animal was just not designed for sitting–especially at a desk– day after day, week after week, year after year.

And so, to address the problem, is to know that it is a lifelong problem. Not perhaps a great prospect for those who want a ‘quick fix,’ or are just too busy to deal with reality. And I don’t want to dissuade anyone from the benefits of massage or Physio for specific problems, but you can’t really argue with the science or the logic in this case.

Here are the four neck and shoulder exercises:

The Front Raise

With elbows slightly flexed, raise the arm one at a time to ninety degrees in front of you.

The Lateral Raise

With elbows slightly flexed, lift both arms out to about ninety degrees.

excel physiotherapy and wellness; excel physio; tim ellis; Lateral Raise
Reverse Flyes

Sit bent over forward with back straight and arms hanging straight down to the floor. Then raise both arms sideways until they are horizontal.

excel physiotherapy and wellness; excel physio; tim ellis; Reverse Flyes
Shoulder Shrugs

While standing and with arms hanging down by your side, elevate both your shoulders as high as possible.

excel physiotherapy and wellness; excel physio; tim ellis; Shoulder Shrugs

So, good luck to all our office workers with achy necks and shoulders. If you don’t have any other injuries, or any other medical conditions, give these exercises a try. For treatment our doors are always open and if you still have concerns your Physio’s at Excel can design an exercise programme for you.  Put in the action and you will get a result.